Generation Cedar

We were at Subway with my Mom, and I was minus my oldest child.  Yes, they were staring, but I’m used to that–admittedly, it is odd to see 6 children in tow behind a pregnant Mommy (I’d probably stare too!)

After a while, the man next to us turned and said, “You have the most well-behaved children I have ever seen…you just don’t see this anymore”.

And while my human side would have tended to be honored by his compliment, there was a deep stinging in his words.  “You just don’t see this anymore”.

“Why?”  I asked my Mom on the way home.  It’s not like my children aren’t “normal”.  We have our troubles, conflicts, fussing, etc.  But by the same token, they can sit still and be pretty quiet and know not to act like wild monkeys in public.

And this is rare?  What a tragedy!  I’m still grappling with the “why” question…my mom suggested it’s because parents “want more for their children than they had”, and somehow that has translated into a parenting style of child-centeredness, giving them what they want and not ever rebuking their behavior (you know, protect their self-esteem?)

I don’t know.  But I long to help parents understand that guiding a child to control himself, to be denied from time to time, to be required to act responsibly, to respect others with their behavior–those things are better for a child than any giving in to whims ever is.  It’s better than any material things you could provide, better than any special privilege you think he deserves.

Happy are the children whose parents expect and require common obedience and self-controlled behavior.  Happy is a culture where those children grow up!  Let’s be vigilant…especially as Christians who are supposed to shine as lights, and are given children as one way to demonstrate God’s goodness and grace when we train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!


Getting Your Children to Obey

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25 Responses

  1. Amen! Love this post.
    I can relate so well to what your talking about.
    It seems like the older generation really notices and appreciates obedient children while many other parents are quick to label our children as “abnormal” simply because we expect them to be considerate and courteous. It’s very puzzling to me.
    Blessings to you~

  2. I have recently come to understand my sin in allowing my children to be disobedient and am in the process of trying to correct their behavior and mine. It is getting better, but I know it would have been much easier on all of us if I had recognized my negligence in this area along time ago.

  3. Your mother is right, Kelly.

    Parents want so much for their kids these days that they are constantly on the run trying to please their children. They do not take the time any more to parent!

    This is rampant even in the Christian community. The popular thing today is to “keep our kids/teenagers so busy that they will stay out of trouble”. This is what a relative of mine who runs her family ragged with sports, boy scouts, & such said is her reasoning.

    Another thing that children do not do any more is just common courtesy to the elderly. An older lady at our church was telling me that she can say “hi” to a child and they will normally ignore her. I think that is a trait that parents should work on as well as obedience. Common courtesy! Most kids don’t do that any more either.

  4. I’m a mom of 8 with 7 still living at home. The children still at home range in age from 18 years down to 6 months. When we are out, we often receive compliments from people about how well behaved the little darlings are.

    Although I enjoy compliments 🙂 in a way this is really spooky because my children are not perfect little angels. They are high spirited and with 5 of them being boys they are quite rowdy. They are nothing like I imagined those children on the covers of Teaching Home magazine would be like.

    We love our children dearly and think they are great, but to hear people say on a regular basis that they are the best behaved children they have seen all day really makes me wonder about how poorly behaved the average little one has become.

    Reminds me of when I was taking the SAT a kabillion years ago. I have about zero math aptitude. I studied and studied for a couple of months and pulled off a slightly above average math score. Wow! I KNOW how poorly I do with math and I’m better than average? What kind of sad thing does that say about the level of mathematic abilities the people in our nation have?

    Likewise, I know how inconsistent DH and I can be in our child training. I know the rowdiness. Yes, I really know how wild and rowdy my gang can be!

    I feel concerned that the day will come when well behaved, normal, happy children will be considered a symptom of child abuse and those compliments we receive now will turn into an occasion for a social services investigation.

  5. Beth,

    I had almost posted my story about my kids acting up (at least in my opinion) at the Christian bookstore and then the lady telling me how well behaved they were!

    That last comment you made is a chilling thought!!!

  6. It is parenting style- child vs. Christ or even family centered (because you don’t have to be a Christian to raise respectful children), but it’s more. Several things come to mind, and the first is, how can you parent at all when you’re rarely around your kids (two parent working families)? Clearly some parents can manage, I don’t dispute this, but clearly most don’t, or youe children’s behavior would not be out of the ordinary. Also, this is probably less common, but all children need variation in parenting and discipline (more!), and there’s a steeper learning curve for some parents than others.

  7. I’m sure a lot of you have already thought of this, but one factor in my children being the people they are is the lack of television in their lives.

    Leaving almost all contemporary television programing, as well as contemporary, worldly movies, books and music will go a LOOONNNGG way toward giving you “well-behaved” children and you don’t have to DO anything LOL. Our Heavenly Father was so merciful to us.

    When we were yet unbelievers and some of our children were young, I had the startling insight that if I didn’t like the way the characters on a t.v. show were behaving, and I didn’t want to see that behavior reproduced in my children, I shouldn’t let them watch that show. That meant “Arthur” (I think) was out the window! I noticed that when they watched it, they quarreled. When we turned it off, after a few weeks the level of bickering dropped amazingly.

    We do watch carefully selected programs. The older children have a little more variety than the younger children.

    I try to use the verse where Paul talks about whatever is pure, whatever is noble etc. as our guideline for what kind of media we will set before their eyes and expose their ears to.

    I really think that by nature, even untrained children are not the bratty little creatures we have around today. I feel that to produce these you need the lack of training to be compounded with horrible examples.

    So just ask yourself as you are watching a show with your children if the type of behavior being modeled in the show is the type of behavior you want your children to engage in. If it’s not, turn it off.

  8. We get this every week when we make our Wednesday trek into town for piano lessons, grocery shopping, and other various errands. While I am thankful for children who know and remember how to behave in public (that they represent not only their earthly father, but also their heavenly father), I know it is only by God’s grace. I like to take these opportunities to remind my children that those kind comments are because others are seeing Jesus in them. I don’t ever want my kids to think to themselves, “Oh, I am sooo good!” Rather I want them to keep in mind that their good behavior provides opportunity for others to ask about the hope that is within them!

    Another thought I had about this post was the sermon my pastor preached this past Sunday on I Kings 1 in which King David was old, about to die, and his son Adonijah exalted himself to seize the throne. Vs. 6 is quite telling: “And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?…” Your mom is right, Kelly, but there is nothing new under the sun. Child-centered parenting has always been around; sadly it is only more prevalent today.

    Thanks for another thought provoking post. 🙂 God bless you!

  9. Beth, you are right on! We don’t have TV at this point (and don’t plan on it either!).

    We do DVDs/vhs that are very limited and have become even more limited as time has gone by. It is considered a privilege for them to get to watch a movie around here. I quit letting my boys watch “Franklin” (the turtle cartoon) because Franklin whined at his mom all the time. They were copying his very tone!!!! (Awwww, mommmmmm, he was always whining).
    If it weren’t for the good Christian & educational media, we’d probably just chunk the whole DVD player and everything.

    Now when they whine, they get more of what they are whining about 😉 (food, chores, etc)

    The whining has been drastically reduced at this point! 🙂

  10. I get that comment all the time too – of my 3, 2, and 7 mo…I often stare wide-eyed because in my book they were behaving HORRIBLY…sad when people consider the way my kids behave “good” – 8 / But then, I’m not surprised at all when after I see a few examples in contrast at Walmart.

  11. I don’t think I’d have any advice; I’m only a young mom of 21-month-old and one on the way. But, the thing that astonishes me is that I’m ALREADY getting comments like this about my daughter! All because she says please and thank you and because, if she has a little tantrum in the store, I don’t give in and, after a hug, she’ll calm down. Older and more experienced parents stare at me in awe and say, “I can’t just believe she’s so well-behaved! And HOW old is she?” I don’t have any tricks or bits of advice. I just love her and set what I believe are reasonable, biblical expectations and then follow through. I have a hard time believing this is rare, but from the reactions I get, I suppose it must be.

  12. I think it is as your mother said. I also think parents simply not being as present as they once were is also a cause. Whether it is because they both work outside the home, or only one parent does, it seems that less and less time is actually devoted to the children by the parent. They are distracted by having “their own lives.” And so that they may have time to have their own lives, they book their children’s schedule with activities. They accuse anyone who spends more than suppertime with their children of “helicopter parenting.”
    As being too involved.

    I have been confronted numerous amounts of times lately because my 2year is not in preschool! I am neglecting my child because I am not letting other people raise him, and thus I am denying him socialization! It is amazing what our society has contrived about parenting!

  13. Love it Kelly!! I too get those comments from time to time and don’t feel like my kids are acting their best. But I do have one question I wish you would address–I have a very shy 6 year old. I am trying to get him to speak when spoken to by strangers instead of hiding. Any suggestions to how to help him overcome his shyness?

  14. I’m a mom of nine (eight here on earth), and it’s even worse when they tag on the end of their comment something that indicates how “lucky” I am to have given birth to nice children 🙂
    God doesn’t give children, give instruction for their training and then say it will work for “all except YOURS, ha, ha….”
    As I have often said, “If I can do this, anyone can. It’s not my work, it’s HIS.”

  15. Lucy,

    *GRIN* You’re sweet for checking in…yes it’s well. We have had a busy day, so I haven’t got to comment…besides that, everyone’s doing such a great job on their own 😉

    Rhonda, I know you asked a question…I’m going to answer, I promise!

  16. What’s really sad is that MSNBC just ran an article about this. Oddly, I actually agreed with most of it. (I’m not a big MSNBC fan.) It’s amazing what children can learn when they’re taught. 😉 It’s a rather disturbing trend in the world today.

    Blessings to all!!

  17. I think many parents make the mistake of wanting to be their childs best friend. Training children is such hard work, you never have a day off, its’ like battle…you have to be there, and in the trenches everyday,Stay at home moms are so rare anymore, but i am convinced watching all my childrens friends raise themselves that the sacrifice to be present and in the moment for my children are worth it.

  18. When my now 14 year old immpulsive daughter was still quite young and a variety of parenting styles was floating around in my head… a wise older woman made a comment to me. We had been talking about some of the difficulties I was having with Kendra, she asked me what I wanted my children to be when they grew up. Strange question. I didn’t know, happy? Godly? She smiled and said, “An adult”. I mulled that over a long time. When I plant my garden, I want peas or beans or squash … right? I don’t tell people I’m raising flowers. So I started to consider what kind of an adult did I want my daughter to be … kind, loving, thoughtful, Godly, knows her scripture, confident in herself, good mother and wife … and quickly came to the conclusion that what most people were doing was raising children … and when their children reahed 20 and older, that they still had children.

    So while my 14 year old still takes every opportunity to sit in the sand and dig and build castles with her almost 4 year old brother and similar aged nephews … she also knows how to cook and clean a house, how to take care of little children, and how to defend her faith and shows no sign of being shaken at her roots. She and our almost 12 year old eagerly devour christian books, and their favorite thing to listen to on their MP3 players while they do their housework is sermons and Gospel or chorus music.

    They aren’t perfect. Not one of my 3 are perfect. But I can see progress on a daily basis. Yesterday, my husband was shocked when our almost 4 year old son began unpacking the groceries (without prompting) and helping Daddy put them away. Joel proudly held up his little hands and said, “Dees is elpin ans”

    It’s not easy being a stay at home, homeschooling mom. But I so love it. It has been especially hard with my Dh out of work for over a year now. I’m always surprised that there is still money to keep us afloat – nothing extra – but we have what we need.

    My own mother was a wonderful example, and after watching and supporting her daughters in homeschooling, wishes she had done the same. She went home to heaven on Mother’s Day quite unexpectedly. We are still in shock.

  19. Rachel,

    First I want to say I am so sorry that you just lost your mom…I can’t imagine the heartache.

    Secondly, your comment is spot-on. So true, that generally, our culture has stopped raising adults, and even scoff at the ones who dare to teach any considerable amount of responsbility (child abuse, you know). Well said.

  20. Very good post. It seems that there are altogether too many people these days who don’t expect obedience. They just think kids are going to act up, and are surprised when they see children exhibit any level of self-control.

    Along these lines, we were recently given some hand-me-down clothing for children that included a T-shirt which said something like “Be glad I’m not YOUR kid.” People buy stuff like that and dress their kids in it?! I just have to shake my head…so sad.

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